There is an unbelievable day’s racing to enjoy on Saturday with ITV bringing us quality action from Wetherby, Ascot and Down Royal where the likes of Delta Work, Lady Buttons and Definitly Red will feature. This is just a sample of runners and a total of nine races being shown on an action-packed day.
If that wasn’t enough it’s Day 2 of the Breeders’ Cup which brings the International Flat racing to a close with the exception of the Melbourne Cup. Make sure to read our preview of all the Grade 1 races taking place at Santa Anita here
Wetherby Handicap Chase
Dan Skelton’s West Of The Bridge looks like the type to do better over fences based on his fine fourth on chasing debut at Carlisle. He raced with the coke out that day and if settling better he could be the one they all have to beat.
The Bowen team are always worth following and run Cougar’s Gold here who won three times in a busy campaign. He started this season with a fine runner-up finish at Exeter and is worth following.
I quite like the chances of Colin Tizzard’s Valhalla who’s eight-pounds lower than his last winning mark and has shown decent form when returning from a break. The Tizzard yard didn’t really fire on all cylinders last season and I think he’s feasibly handicapped.
Listed Mares’ Hurdle
Lady Buttons is contesting this contest for the third successive season and has finished first and second thus far. She won four on the bounce at the beginning of last season including a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster. She’s five-pounds clear on ratings and will take all the beating.
The French-import Zambella makes her Brittish debut here for the formidable Isaac Souede and Simon Munir. The well-bred four-year-old filly won her last two starts in France and is an exciting prospect.
Indefatigable only just lost out by a neck behind Lady Buttons in that Grade 2 last season and comes here with the benefit of a run under her belt. That should have left her spot-on for this and may reverse the form.
Selection: Lady Buttons
West Yorkshire Hurdle
A small but select field for this Grade 2 contest, with the likeable Ballyandy looking the one to beat, based on his Coral Cup third and fine “pipe-opener” in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow early in October. This race will have been an early-season plan by Nigel-Twiston Davies and should collect.
The top-rated in her is the former Stayers’ Hurdle winner Unowhatimeanharry from the Harry Fry yard. He rolled the clock back to win the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at Punchestown when last seen which would see him win this eased down. He’s got a decent record when fresh but at this stage of his career may struggle to give match practice and weight away to his rivals.
We haven’t seen The Worlds End over hurdles since he finished fourth in the Grade 1 Stayers’ at Aintree. Tom George campaigned him over the larger obstacles last season but after a promising start, he fell short in te better races. He looks a better hurdler and could progress further back at the discipline.
The other to keep an eye on is Two Taffs from the Dan Skelton yard. He’s having his first start in two years. He’s a classy individual and if on song would win this in a hack.
Selection: The Worlds End
Charlie Hall Chase
Definitly Red was a cosy winner of this contest twelve months when accounting for Black Corton. Brian Ellison’s charge seems best when fresh and could be tough to beat in his bid for back to victories.
Last season’s Welsh Grand National winner Elegant Escape ran a super race when finishing sixth in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and given his seasonal debut record, he should once again run well.
Le Bague Au Roi had a great first season novice chasing, winning four on the bounce including a brace of Grade 1’s and just missing out at Aintree. She’s a very classy mare and makes it a tricky race to pick apart.
Selection: Definitly Red
The lightly-raced Jammy George looks very attractively weighted for this novice handicap chase. Harry Whittington’s inmate makes his chase debut and I think he can excel in this discipline.
Pingshou was a Grade 1 winner as a novice hurdler back in 2017 and although he’s never quite hit the heights he once promised, he’s been very consistent of late and should go close.
Another horse representing the Brook’s family is Cervaro Mix from the Oliver Sherwood yard. He was impressive when beating Risk And Roll on chasing debut at the end of last season. It was disappointing that he got overturned at back at Fontwell last month but should benefit from that run and can progress.
Selection: Jammy George
Byrne Group Handicap Chase
Caid du Lin was second in this race last season and followed it up with a course and distance winner off seven-pounds lower last season. Dr Richard Newlands charge ran well on seasonal debut three weeks ago and must feature.
Tom George’s Clondaw Castle made serious progression last season and ran with great credit in a brace of Grade 1’s at Cheltenham and Aintree. He looks like the type of improve gain this season and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Hatcher has won six of his last eight starts, showing a real aptitude for fences. Like many others, he’s on an upward curve and should run well.
Selection: Clondaw Castle
Sodexo Handicap Hurdle
Four-year-olds dominate the market here with Adjali and Red Force One. Nicky’s charge was only beaten a neck in Grade 1 company last season and brings a very high level of form into the race. It can often be tough for second-season juvenile hurdlers but he should run well.
The Skelton yard is going well at present and runs Denmead here who’s won two of his five starts over timber but was bitterly disappointing when making the trip of Fairyhouse on his last start of the season. I think he needs to find further progress to feature.
Champion Bumper tenth Didtheyleaveuoutto looked quite promising when landing his first two hurdles starts. He’s come up short of late in the Betfair Hurdle and a competitive handicap at Galway. There is ability under the bonnet and I wouldn’t give up hope yet.
The classy but fragile Jolly’s Cracked It has only been seen five times in the last 3 years. Harry Fry’s will have him well-tuned to do himself justice here and off just two-pounds higher than he’s last winning mark he should get involved.
Selection: Jolly’s Cracked It
Sodexo Gold Cup
The lightly-raced Vinndication should jump off favourite here for Kim Bailey. He was a smooth winner of a Grade 2 last season before coming up short in Grade 1 company. I think there is more to come from him but I think he needs to ground to be softer.
On The Blind Side has flattered to deceive more than once in his career including on the Dipper on seasonal debut last season. Nicky’s charge is undoubtedly very talented but will improve for the run.
Springtown Lake gets in here off a featherweight which could prove crucial. He’s won twice on seasonal debut and runs off a three-pound lower mark than when finishing fifth in the Close Brothers’ Chase at Cheltenham. All of these factors should give him a live chance of victory here.
Selection: Springtown Lake
Down Royal plays host to the Irelands first Grade 1 contest of the National Hunt season with the Champion Chase taking centre stage there on Saturday. The race has been farmed by Gigginstown House Stud in recent years with Michael O’Leary’s operation winning the last six renewals.
Road To Respect took this twelve months ago before going onto being placed in three more Grade 1 contests. The son of Gamut seems best when fresh and with Noel Meade’s yard in tremendous form over both codes he could prove difficult to contain.
Paul Nicholls’ has won the race five times with the likes of Kauto Star and Taranis. The Ditcheat trainer is represented by the King George winner Clan Des Obeaux this year. He arguably brings the best form into the race but has only won once on seasonal debut and a watching brief is advised.
Gordon will be really “gunning” for the trainers’ title this season and could get the season off to a”flyer” with two of the five runners. Chief among them is Delta Work who won on this card last season before going on to win three Grade 1 novice chases. In fact, he’s only defeat came at Cheltenham behind Topoftegame in the RSA. It’ll be interesting t see how he fares against “seasoned” campaigners but one thing for certain is that he’s a classy individual.
Selection: Delta Work